F1 News, Views and Reviews

Posts tagged “Sebastian Vettel

F1 2011 Launch Catch Up – McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Renault…

Catching up on the launches in one mega post.  Here in you’ll find quick interviews with senior members of the team and photos from the Red Bull, Sauber, Renault Lotus, Toro Rosso, Mercedes and McLaren launches.

Apologies for being somewhat late, the whole blog isn’t running at full power until the season starts again.

Red Bull RB7

The world champions launched their new car, named the RB7.  A clear advancement on the hugely successful RB6, hopes are high that this machine can deliver once again.

“This year is no different to any other,” said Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull.

“I think if we had not have won either championship last year there would have been that expectation and obviously the pressure that comes with that. We’ve achieved that and achieved that in a short space of time and I think it is like winning your first grand prix.

“Out of that comes confidence but not arrogance, but the team goes into this year very, very motivated and very committed but you have to remember we are still an independent team with a customer engine that achieved some remarkable things last year and that is our target again, again, obviously this year.”

 

Sauber C30

The independent Swiss team pulled the covers of their new car, the C30 marking the second incarnation of the team in its modern era.  The new car is backed heavily by Mexican giants Telmex and will be raced by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Former Force India but now Sauber technical director James Key said: “Our aim in the development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari has been to build on the strengths of the C29 and to eliminate its weak points.

“In addition, it is also important for us to go into winter testing with a car we understand, and we have worked hard on ensuring the characteristics of the car are heading in a direction we believe in. There will be much to learn about the new Pirelli tyres and in this respect we want to ensure there are no surprises with the way the car is handling.”

“My rookie season was a very challenging, very exciting period,” Kamui Kobayashi commented at the launch as he enters his second full season of racing.

“Now it’s still exciting but it’s a different role. It’s more the experienced driver in the team. I am thinking how I can bring a good level to the team.

“I have to be ready to lead the team. That’s why Peter Sauber and the team chose me for this year. This is definitely my challenge and let’s say I am ready to be the leader for the team.”

 

Renault Lotus R31

Newly backed by Group Lotus, Renault pulled the covers off their new car – the R31 – to a mass of media wondering what the final paint scheme would look like, and wondering how the Lotus name debate would go on.  The debate on the name may still be rumbling, but there is no debate over how fabulous the car looks in classic JPS brown and gold.

Featuring front blown exhausts, it looks fast and could be a title contender.  And with Bruno Senna as a spare driver, it harks back wonderful memories seeing the yellow helmet inside a JPS liveried Lotus.

“I’m happy that we had some creative designs on the car. We clearly back our team and definitely our technical team because we want to be fast, we want to be at the front.” said team principal Eric Boullier

“We know it takes time. You have to be creative. You have to find different ways of creating downforce or performance points. We have been taking this path because we believed, quite early in 2010, that we could find more gains going this way.

“In the wind tunnel, or on paper shall we say, the car already has more performance than 12 months ago. If it’s on the car it’s because we believe it works. But we will see on the track.”

Meanwhile Robert Kubica, the number 1 driver was somewhat cautious on their chances “I think realistically speaking is far too early to say what will be possible to achieve this year,”

“Last season was quite disappointing and let’s hope this year will be different. I think definitely we are more prepared this year, because of the more stable situation in the team than last winter, when I joined the team.

“The winter of 2009 and 2010 was very difficult for Renault and I think this year the engineers and designers had a much easier time and much more time to design the car and I think they have done a really good job.”

 

Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6

Toro Rosso, always in their senior brothers shadow has brought a new design to the table and hopes it will deliver them more success this season in the capable hands of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

The pairing are aiming for 6th place in the Ferrari powered beast.

“My expectations are to do a decent year and we have to have the target to be eighth and as I said, we are good to be ninth but we have to do better. And at the end of the year we have to bring back an eighth place,” said Giorgio Ascanelli.

“Last year we didn’t have a wind-tunnel, the CFD was not mature in order to define the car,” he added. “Therefore, we did not change very much apart from those elements linked to the change of regulation between 2009 and 2010.

“This year the tools which design the car in its performance aspect, which are again the wind tunnel and CFD, are more mature, which means that although we are still learning how to make the best of them I think we have started using them properly.

“For this year, we have to aim for eighth place, because that is our target and I didn’t think that was possible if we had gone with some sort of conventional car.”

 

Mercedes Benz WO2

Mercedes Benz will be hoping that their second modern F1 car can deliver them some more success than last season.  With Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg behind the wheel they have plenty of potential.  A well sponsor backed car now features the light green of Petronas merging into the brushes silver paintwork.  Ross Brawn, the technical mastertmind behind multiple drivers world championship wins will be eager to deliver the German squad some success.

“It is always a thrill to see a new car ready to take the track for the first time and this year is no exception,” said Brawn. “After our first year as the Mercedes-Benz works team, we are now seeing the benefits of our chassis and engine groups working well together.

“With a good technical structure and a strengthened race engineering organisation, both at the factory and the race track, I am confident that we have done and will continue to do a better job this year in all key areas.

“We want to be setting the standard right from the start but if we are not, we will respond very strongly to get ourselves into the game. Everyone is excitedly waiting to see what the new season will reveal.”

Meanwhile top driver Michael Schumacher was upbeat on the chances of the car delivering him a record breaking 8th world championship.

“I very much look forward to the new season. We have said it several times already but again, we are really to building up something big together. I am very confident that this season we will be standing on the podium much more regularly; ideally in the middle!”

 

McLaren MP4-26

McLaren launched their radical new car in Berlin in a ceremony hosted by lead sponsors Vodafone.  The car will be raced by two former world champions, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

The new car features L-Shaped sidepods, and a two tier floor amongst other technical advancements.  The squad are already looking at incorporating a front blown exhaust similar to the Renault Lotus’ design.

Lewis Hamilton was very happy with the machine on launch day.

“I hope the car proves just as innovative once we take to the track next week,” said Hamilton. “I head into 2011 in a relaxed but determined frame of mind.

“I’ve spared nothing during my winter fitness preparations and, in many ways, I feel as fit, focused and refreshed as I did ahead of my first season in Formula 1 in 2007.

“Having spent the past few weeks talking with our designers and engineers, I feel extremely happy that we’ve created a car that will once again allow us to fight at the front.”

 

 

 

Advertisements

Why Michael Schumacher Could Win The 2011 World Championship

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 comeback was somewhat abortive.  The results, the driving standard and the overtakes were well below par for the former champion.  He even let his team mate beat him for the first time in his career.  So why can Schumacher, the fallen Ferrari hero, win the world championship for an 8th time?

It’s still the same Michael Schumacher

Indeed, we saw glimpses of it last season.  The passion, and the desire to do well.  He was racing on the ragged edge, braking as late – if not later – than anyone else.  The trouble was, he didn’t have the car underneath him to be able to win.  It took him a while to get reacquainted, but in truth it would take anyone a while to get used to be these new cars.

The 2011 car will be built around him

Sorry Rosberg fans, the fact is – Schumacher & Brawn will be running the show at Mercedes Benz.  Let’s not forget, they are paying Michael an arm and a leg to race for them.  He will design the car around him, something he didn’t get chance to do last season.  He also has an entire year of racing with the wide nosed, tall winged cars so has plenty of data and ideas to call upon when constructing the new vehicle.  An insider has already said that downforce and grip levels on the simulator are exceeding expectations.  Not a bad start?

Pirelli Tyres

Yep, the great big unknown means it’s all a level playing field this season.  No-one knows much about Pirelli just yet, so it’s a fair and even start for all the drivers.  It’s about adaptability, and we know deep down inside the 42 year old he can adapt.  He also looked quick in the 2010 car on 2011 rubber.

Less expectation than last year

At the start of 2010, we all expected the Schumacher from 2006 to jump behind the wheel and immediately win.  Let’s not forget here, 2005 and 2006 were barren seasons for Schumacher – he walked away with nothing.  He was in decline, so why did we expect him to be immediately brilliant?  I was and still am a Schumacher fan, but I knew he was not as good as he used to be.  This year he will have less expectation than before.  We’re all used to him driving and Germany has a new world champion to thrust under the spotlight at every opportunity in Sebastian Vettel.

Other drivers still fear him


When the red baron’s helmet is filling your wing mirrors, surely it must make your heart beat twice as fast.  Fernando Alonso has already said he fears Schumacher the most for 2011

“There will be five world champions on the track and the most dangerous champion for me is always Michael.  Now in January if I have to choose one name I have to say Michael. He is seven-time champion, he has nothing to prove. He had a difficult season but he is still a champion. N He is still super class and if the car is right he will be a contender,”

BUT

Its not all going in Schumacher’s favour.   Michael is a lot older than any of the other title contenders now, and that could be his downfall.  Not suggesting he isn’t fit, he is probably more athletic now than he was before – but age is still a factor.  Red Bull are not suddenly going to be slow, they just aren’t.  Not with Vettel and Newey onboard.  Ferrari and Alonso will be desperate for the title.  McLaren have two world champions driving for them.  Oh and there’s the small matter of the fact Nico Rosberg was better than Michael last season.

Nevertheless, as an outside bet – you could do a lot worse than Michael.


Race Of Champions Round Up: Germany & Albuquerque Win, Kovalainen Drama

Team Germany ran away to success in the Race of Champions Nation Cup last weekend, a victory on home soil in Dusseldorf for the pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.

The pair overcame stiff competition from top motorsport countries of the world, as drivers from all motorsport disciplines tried their hand in a variety of cars on the circuit.

Meanwhile in the individual classification there was a surprise winner in Filipe Albuquerque, the relative unknown driver who has spent the last two seasons racing GT cars in Italy.  He previously raced in Gp2 and Formula Renault 3.5.

“I was not really expecting to win. I just came here to do my best. I don’t know if it will open doors. I think I know what I want. But let’s see, take it day by day.

“I came here, did my best, when it counted it was good. Even if I had not won, even being so close to Sebastien [Loeb] in the end was already really good for me.”

Meanwhile there was drama for 2004 champion and Lotus F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen.  Following victory in an Audi R8 race, the Finn crashed and knocked himself unconscious.

“Hardcore shunt with throttle jammed and rear suspension damaged, got knocked out, now some medical checkups,” he wrote on his Twitter page.

“Head’s a bit sore, I was unconscious for 30 seconds”

 


Red Bull Racing Share Out Staff Bonuses For Winning Title

Red Bull Racing owner Dietrich Mateschitz has handed out all of the staff bonuses to his team following their double world championship victory this season, according to German newspaper Bild.

It has been estimated that the majority of the 500 staff in Milton Keynes were given £10,000 for their troubles over the season, while more senior staff earnt themselves a bonus of about £42,000 for their part in the victories.

World Champion Sebastian Vettel earnt himself around £2.6million for winning the world championship, on top of the extra sponsorship money and revenue he will now command following the championship victory.  Proctor & Gamble have already signed a new sponsorship deal with the young German.

It is merely a drop in the ocean for owner Mateschitz, himself a millionaire, who is expected to receive about £62million in prize money for the championship wins.  He has always maintained however that his wallet is not a bottomless pit when it comes to the budget for the team, they are estimated to have a middle ground budget of between €300million and €500million.  Toyota were the top budget spenders in F1, but it is likely that Ferrari have regained the crown of the largest spenders in F1.

 


Autosport International Show 2011 – What Better Way To Start The New Season!

Autosport, the leading motor racing magazine organises and sponsors one of the biggest motorsport shows of the year every January.  The Autosport International Show is held at the NEC in Birmingham, England and is seen traditionally as “the start of the motor racing season”.

For 2011, the show promises to be bigger and better than ever, and just for you readers on The F1Fanatics Blog we have a special preview of the event for you!

In addition to the masses of motorsport teams, clubs and suppliers that will be showing displays of their equipment and cars over the 4 days in Birmingham, there is a fantastic chance to meet some of your heroes.  In the past such names as Murray Walker, Jenson Button, Andy Priaulx, James Thompson, Gary Paffett and Sir Stirling Moss have been in attendance.  Already confirmed for the 2011 show are Walker, Martin Brundle and Jake Humphrey from BBC F1 and there will be many more drivers happy to come and have autographs and photos with the fans.

Murray Walker answers questions from the fans

On top of this, many of the stars will be taking part in the Fifth Gear Live action arena show, included with the tickets its a chance to see different cars from all forms of motorsport take to the indoor arena track.  This year Tiff Nedell and Jason Plato (BTCC Champion) will be running the excellent event.

Alongside the regular Formula One paddock which is a chance to see all of the 2010 F1 cars, this year there will be a special McLaren F1 display so you can see the likes of Mika Hakkinen and Niki Lauda’s cars from back in the day.  Recently confirmed was an exact replica of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull RB6 world championship winning car, in its overall form so you can see what drove the young German to the title in Abu Dhabi.  It will even feature their trick diffuser but without the mechanics hiding it!

Last years championship winning Brawn GP 01 was a big attraction, Vettel's Red Bull will be this year too

All in all it is a fantastic event, one which I attend yearly.  If you can make it, check out: www.autosportinternational.com for tickets or if not stay tuned on The F1Fanatics Blog for many features before the show and a big summary of all of the events after we spend a whole day there looking for stars and their cars!

 


Alonso Fastest On Final Day Of Pirelli Tests

Fernando Alonso was the fastest man on the second and final day of the Pirelli tyre tests at Abu Dhabi.

The Spaniard, who came close to winning the 2010 World Championship, set a fastest time of 1.40.529.  That was around a tenth quicker than second placed man Michael Schumacher who has clearly taken to the Pirelli tyres better than team mate Nico Rosberg.

World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third, while McLaren testers Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey were 6th and 7th.

Pastor Maldonado, linked heavily with a 2011 Williams drive, was out for Hispania once again and finished in 14th place just ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock.

Pos  Driver              Team         Time       Laps
 1.  Fernando Alonso     Ferrari      1m40.529s  105
 2.  Michael Schumacher  Mercedes     1m40.685s  74
 3.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m40.825s  66
 4.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m41.294s  100
 5.  Robert Kubica       Renault      1m41.614s  91
 6.  Gary Paffett        McLaren      1m41.622s  46
 7.  Oliver Turvey       McLaren      1m41.740s  30
 8.  Paul di Resta       Force India  1m41.869s  35
 9.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m42.110s  43
10.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso   1m42.145s  97
11.  Tonio Liuzzi        Force India  1m42.416s  46
12.  Sergio Perez        Sauber       1m42.777s  46
13.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus        1m44.521s  83
14.  Pastor Maldonado    Hispania     1m44.768s  65
15.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m44.783s  82

 


Drivers Reaction Following First Pirelli Tyre Test

Various drivers had the opportunity to test the new Pirelli tyres today in the first test at Abu Dhabi.  While only driving their 2010 machines, it will give them the chance to evaluate the new rubber from the Italian manufacturer.

Here’s what a variety of the drivers thought about the tyres following the test.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing):

“Given the short amount of time Pirelli had, I think they did a good job,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time of the day. “It’s a good start and it was good to be back in the car.

“You need to give the car a bit of time to adapt to the tyres. We need to work on the set-up, but I think it’s a common view that the tyres have behaved pretty well and probably better than a lot of people expected.”

Rubens Barrichello (Williams):

“I’ve been positively impressed,” said Barrichello. “The track is a little bit different because I think they polished the asphalt because of the Bridgestone rubber.

“I don’t think it’s time to make comparisons, but I thought it was positive. I did 42 laps in the morning and it was okay. They are different to Bridgestones and we need to keep learning. We could not expect a completely different tyre to work the same way. I quite like the challenge.”

Felipe Massa (Ferrari):

“The harder compound has a lot of degradation and it’s not as quick as I expected,” Massa said.

“As for the softer tyre, I was very happy with it. It’s quick, degradation is very good. I did long runs with both and the one I did with the softer tyre was very good, possibly better than what I had last Sunday in the race.

“Of course, again, they’ll have to work to improve the harder compound they brought here, but that’s what this test was all about. Pirelli saw what happened, listened to our suggestions and understood the situation.”

Robert Kubica (Renault):

“It’s difficult to compare because we had a race five days ago and the track has changed quite a lot due to the testing and the rubber that was laid down,” said Kubica. “I’m sure that the track grip is much better than it was in the race.

“This makes it difficult to compare them – there’s no point really in comparing them. There’s quite a big difference. It is always pretty interesting when you change tyres to feel the difference and make some set-up changes and stuff like this.

“It’s just to get an idea for next year’s car which characteristics will work best. We will never get track conditions with so much rubber on the race weekends, so actually I don’t think it’s so significant, this test. A lot of the young drivers had many sets of new tyres! Although the track was washed yesterday, I didn’t recognise it. It was like a different track.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz):

“They’re at least similar [to Bridgestone’s] or perhaps for worse for us at the moment”

“…In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.

“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”





Massa Fastest On First Pirelli Tyre Test Day

Felipe Massa was the fastest man on the first day of testing for the new Pirelli tyres.

The Brazilian driver was narrowly quicker than World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

Today wasn’t really about the times, it was about seeing how the new tyres coped on the cars, and seemingly they have worked rather well.  No major problems for any driver, only a small puncture for Vettel at the end of the session which was due to track debris puncturing the tyre rather than a failure of the wheel itself.

Felipe Massa declared himself very happy following the test.

“It was a positive day to understand the way to go next year with a tyre that is quite different to the one we had in 2010,” said Massa. “We were able to see that direction quite quickly and we understood quite easily what the tyre required from the car and driver.

“But it’s also clear there are quite a lot of things to change for next year. Next year’s car will be quite different, of course, but today was positive and I’m pleased after working with Pirelli for the first time.”

Pos  Driver              Car          Time       Laps
 1.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari      1m40.170s  94
 2.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m40.500s  77
 3.  Gary Paffett        McLaren      1m40.874s  94
 4.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m40.950s  83
 5.  Robert Kubica       Renault      1m41.032s  39
 6.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m41.425s  91
 7.  Paul di Resta       Force India  1m41.615s  20
 8.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes     1m41.778s  81
 9.  Jaime Alguersuari   Toro Rosso   1m42.019s  71
10.  Adrian Sutil        Force India  1m42.859s  20
11.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m44.124s  78
12.  Heikki Kovalainen   Lotus        1m44.686s  88
13.  Pastor Maldonado    Hispania     1m45.728s  83

 


Reaction To Sebastian Vettel’s 2010 World Championship Win

Here’s a selection of comments and quotes to Sebastian Vettel’s World Championship win today at Abu Dhabi.

Sebastian Vettel: “I am a bit speechless to be honest, I don’t know what you’re supposed to say in this moment. It is unbelievable. I went to bed and kept thinking about the race, about what might happen. I had some good imaginations and a good feeling.”

“We have seen incredible fights and a tight season.”   don’t know how many times we have had a different leader. Some people got written off very early and then came back, like Fernando, they came back hard. Lewis [Hamilton] came back and was leading all of us.  For some reason it does not feel like it is happening. It’s strange, but it will sink in when I finally go to sleep – but I think we will have daylight before that happens.”

Michael Schumacher (former 7 time world champion): “I’m quite happy for him because we are friends and it has been a tough year for him.  He’s had up and downs he has had to go through, probably more on the mechanical side than on the driving side so he really deserves this championship.  Well done to him, well done to the team, a great job from them all.

“My time was different time from his time, I just feel very happy for him. I think he deserves all the credit. He is a great driver, he is a fantastic guy, so I am more than happy for him.”

Christian Horner (Red Bull team principal): “It’s unbelievable.  It’s been a very emotional week for this team. I’m just so proud of the team. It’s just an amazing feeling to be double world champions, it’s the icing on the cake with the drivers’ [title]. This team is the best team in the world.  Sebastian, it’s the first time he’s led the world championship and he’s done it at the last race of the year. Unbelievable. A great job, he drove a perfect race when the pressure was on.

“He has had ups and downs, he’s had bad luck, he’s had some mechanical problems, some engine failures but he never lost his focus and belief – and now he is a champion. A great season.”

Mark Webber (Red Bull team mate): “I fully congratulate Seb on the world championship.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz): “Congratulations to Sebastian today and he deserved the title.”

Jenson Button (McLaren): “Sebastian’s had some great races this year.  We’ve all had up and down races this year, but for the last few races Sebastian has done a great job, and he deserves to be world champion of course.”

Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber): “I also want to congratulate Sebastian (Vettel) for his great success!”

Rob @TheF1FanaticsBlog: “I was always confident that Vettel would win a title someday, but I really thought Alonso would win today.  Well done to him, but as a Ferrari fan I am highly disappointed!”

 


Abu Dhabi GP 2010: Vettel Takes Pole As Finale Hots Up

Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he tries to keep his title chances alive.  The German driver looked quick all through Q3 and did just enough to get into first.

Lewis Hamilton lines up second, he keeps the position after the stewards decided not to penalise him over an incident with Felipe Massa in Q2.  Team mate Jenson Button will start directly behind him on track in 4th.

In third place is Fernando Alonso.  The Ferrari isn’t as quick as the McLaren’s or Red Bull’s this weekend but the Spaniard did enough to slot himself right where he needs to be to win the world championship tomorrow.  Closest rival Webber starts only 5th.

If the race finished as the line up tomorrow, Alonso would be the world champion.

Pos  Driver       Car                  Q1         Q2         Q3
 1.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault     1m40.318s  1m39.874s  1m39.394s
 2.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes     1m40.335s  1m40.119s  1m39.425s
 3.  Alonso       Ferrari              1m40.170s  1m40.311s  1m39.792s
 4.  Button       McLaren-Mercedes     1m40.877s  1m40.014s  1m39.823s
 5.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault     1m40.690s  1m40.074s  1m39.925s
 6.  Massa        Ferrari              1m40.942s  1m40.323s  1m40.202s
 7.  Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth    1m40.904s  1m40.476s  1m40.203s
 8.  Schumacher   Mercedes             1m41.222s  1m40.452s  1m40.516s
 9.  Rosberg      Mercedes             1m40.231s  1m40.060s  1m40.589s
10.  Petrov       Renault              1m41.018s  1m40.658s  1m40.901s
11.  Kubica       Renault              1m41.336s  1m40.780s
12.  Kobayashi    Sauber-Ferrari       1m41.045s  1m40.783s
13.  Sutil        Force India-Ferrari  1m41.473s  1m40.914s
14.  Heidfeld     Sauber-Ferrari       1m41.409s  1m41.113s
15.  Hulkenberg   Williams-Cosworth    1m41.015s  1m41.418s
16.  Liuzzi       Force India-Ferrari  1m41.681s  1m41.642s
17.  Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m41.707s  1m41.738s
18.  Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m41.824s
19.  Trulli       Lotus-Cosworth       1m43.516s
20.  Kovalainen   Lotus-Cosworth       1m43.712s
21.  Glock        Virgin-Cosworth      1m44.095s
22.  di Grassi    Virgin-Cosworth      1m44.510s
23.  Senna        Hispania-Cosworth    1m45.085s
24.  Klien        Hispania-Cosworth    1m45.296s